Saturday, June 29, 2019

Review: Ugritone Northern Artillery Drums (with video sample)

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!

Today we are reviewing the latest drum sampler from Ugritone (former It Might Get Loud Productions), a brand that has evolved from a small Finnish software house to a larger and more prominent company, capable with this first release under the Ugritone name to hire Matias Kupiainen, guitarist and producer of the legendary Finnish power metal band Stratovarius as a producer, and the Stratovarius drummer, Rolf Pilve, as a drummer to capture these samples.

This product clearly differentiates itself from the previous ones: while the older drum samplers of It Might Get Loud were smaller and aimed to obtain a specific sound, this is a much more versatile suite, which incorporates 3 kicks, 6 snares, 2 sets of 5 toms each, 19 cymbals, and the shells have a built in sampler with 62 samples, and the possibility to load your own.

I have appreciated the flexibility of Northern Artillery for several reasons: the routing options are great, they allow us not only to send the channels to separate tracks, but also to the most common configurations (for example divided in shells, cymbals and room microphones); 
the MIDI mapping is super useful (it remaps the notes according to the mapping of the most famous samplers, such as Superior Drummer), and the fact that you can blend in the one shot samples directly within each drum part, all inside the virtual instrument itself, it's just delightful.

I have found this drum sampler much more polished and refined than the previous products of the software house, and it's safe to say that Northern Artillery Drums marks a great beginning for the new Ugritone brand.

The sounds are very usable, and aimed to all kinds of heavy music, from classic metal to the fastest death metal: in the video sample I've made the drum sound comes just from N.A.D., with no additional processing other than some buss compression, and the choice of one shot samples gives extreme flexibility and the possibility to fine tune the tone to the minimum detail.

I really suggest everyone to try this product, and I am looking forward for the next Ugritone releases (rumors says that there is also an amp simulator on the way!).

Thumbs up!

- Drums Engineered by: Matias Kupiainen @ 5by5 Studio, Helsinki, Finland

- Drums Performed by: Rolf Pilve

- One Shot Samples by: Matias Kupiainen, Ron D. Rock & Toni Kauko
- Presets Created by: Matias Kupiainen, Ron D. Rock & Toni Kauko

- Classic Finnish Metal Sound

- 3 kicks, 6 snares, 2 set of 5 toms, 19 cymbals, 62 oneshots.

- 7 Kit Presets - Multiple Routing and MIDI Mapping Options

- Add your own oneshot samples

- Adjust the levels of Close mics, Overhead and Room per drum

- Solo / Mute

- Drum Gain knob

- 3-band Equalizer, different fixed bands for each drum type

- Oneshot sample selector on shells

- Oneshot Pan & Gain knob

- All MIDI Notes are remappable

- All drum mic channels are routable to 16 output channels

- 7 Pre-made presets for different genres ( 90's Death Metal, Industrial Metal, Metal Core etc.)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

TRIDENT IR PACK: FREE impulse response suite exclusive for Guitar Nerding Blog!

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today we are talking about the result of our IR creation experiments, lasted for months, done my me and my friend Dano (Thank you man!) in our rehearsals room, from which I have written my How to capture an Impulse Response from an amp article (click here to read it!).

The result is a custom Ir pack that I have called Trident IR Pack, and it's a pack consisting of 14 48khz impulses created using the power amp section of a Marshall JVM Vintage Modern head, into two cabs, a Marshall 1960 4x12 and an Orange 2x12.

The impulses were captured by two microphones, a Shure Sm57 and a Sennheiser e609, two industry standards, through Presonus Xmax preamps.

There are serveral impulses, taken from the microphones in various positions, and each one has a naming code, which must be interpreted this way:

gnb = Guitar Nerding Blog
mar jvm = Marshall JVM Head
mar412 = Marshall 4x12 cab
org212 = Orange 2x12 cab
57 = Shure sm57
e609 = Sennheiser e609
45deg = the microphone was at 45 degrees, pointing towards the center of the speaker
center = the microphone was pointing straight to the center of the speaker
dustcap = the microphone was pointing to the sweet spot between the dustcap and the cone
edge = the microphone was pointing to the edge of the cone

For best results I suggest you to blend 2 impulses with a cab loader such as Ignite Amps NadIR.

Let us hear your creations using this pack and help us spreading the word!



Saturday, June 15, 2019

How to capture an impulse response (IR) from an amp (with free plugins) Part 2/2

Now that we have everything ready, let's put our microphone in front of our cabinet (using one of the positions suggested in our article about how to microphone a cab) and now we need to nail perfectly our gain staging, which means let's plug our guitar into the amp until we reach a volume in which the power amp section is giving its best, and let's setup the input gain of our audio interface to make sure the signal is captured loud and clear, but without any clipping. 

Now follow those steps:

1) go on Voxengo Deconvolver, click on "Test Tone Gen", generate the sweep (the sound that covers all the audible spectrum) and save it somewhere in your desktop, then import it into a mono track in your Daw.

2) Connect a jack cable from the output of the audio interface to the return of the effect loop of your amp (making sure the loop is on and if there is a mix knob, it is at 100%).

3) play the sweep file you generated, so that it will come out through your amp, and at the same time record the resulting sound with your microphone into another mono track, making sure it's captured at a good volume, but without clipping.

4) export your recorded sound as a wave file, 24bit 48khz (muting the original sweep track!).

5) now go back to Voxengo Deconvolver and load in the first file browser (Test Tone File) the original sweep you have generated, and in the second file browser (File Folder) the recorded file you just exported. Make sure the bit depth is 24, the "MP transform" box is ticked and so the "Normalize to -0.3dbFS" one, and click the "Process" button.

6) The file resulting from the processing will be your IR. Now you can import it into an IR Loader, such as Ignite Amps NadIR. This is the moment in which we can test our tone and eventually see if the mic positioning is correct, if the volume is right, and this will take a bit of trial and error before we start really nailing the perfect IRs.

7) Repeat the process with all the microphone positions you want, all the different microphones, amps, cabinets you have and you'll create your own collection of IRs, so that every time you will want to play your favourite guitar amp simulator it will sound like it's  played in your rehearsals room or studio!


I hope this was helpful!

Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

How to capture an impulse response (IR) from an amp (with free plugins) Part 1/2

Hello and welcome to this week's article!

Today we are talking about an extremely interesting topic: how to capture an Impulse Response.

Impulse responses consist, said in very simple terms, in playing a sound that covers all audible frequences from a source and capturing it with a microphone, then we subtract the original sound from the captured wave and what remains is the interaction between the source, the ambient in which the sound is played, and the microphone that captured it.
This resulting file can be applied in form of Reverb to any track we have, so that a vocal track can sound as it's recorded in a church, or in a room without resonances, or in the shower booth and so on.

Impulse responses are particularly interesting in the world of home recording for one purpose: amp simulators;
why? Because amp modeling is out there by 20 to 30 years (according to whether we are considering also the analog simulation), and still, even if the circuitry of the amp today is emulated to an impressive degree of realism, there is a technological bottleneck regarding cab simulation, somehow it never seems to sound close enough to the real thing and it's the main reason why people still in 2019 keeps making records using the same techniques of 50 years ago.

Impulse responses are a workaround to this technological bottleneck: they substitute completely the other types of cabinet simulations, and just replace them with a Reverb that recreates the sound captured from the guitar cab with a microphone; the result is so much more realistic that this technique has basically substituted completely all the other ways of simulating a cabinet, and are (in a slightly more elaborated way) the core of high end digital guitar amps such as the Kemper.

Internet is full of great impulses that can be downloaded for free (such as the Guitarhack or the Catharsis ones) or paid (like the Ownhammer ones), but if we have the right tools we can do them on our own, so that we just need to capture with our microphone and cab all the positions once, and then we can have fun at home without having to set up the recording gear every time.

What do we need to capture an IR?

A good guitar amp (possibly with a tube power amp) with effects loop and a good cabinet

A microphone (possibly an industry standard such a Shure SM57)

A good audio interface connected to a computer with a Daw

A software that creates impulses, such as Voxengo Deconvolver, that can be used for free with some limitation, but that is perfectly usable to create IRs.


Become fan of this blog on Facebook! Share it and contact us to collaborate!!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Review: Mercuriall Audio Metal Area (with free Vst download and video sample)

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are reviewing a FREE new Vst plugin from Mercuriall Audio: Metal Area!

Metal Area is a faithful recreation of the famous/infamous Boss Metal Zone.
The Metal Zone was a distortion pedal extremely popular in the '90s, when I was doing the high school and learning to play the guitar: all the kids that could afford it (except apparently myself) would buy this rather expensive pedal imagining to obtain the sound of a high gain metal amp, and they would get regularly disappointed, since the default settings would make it sound like a box of mosquitoes and it was quite difficult to dial in.

Since so many kids bought it (it sold one million copies!) and hated it for decades, today this pedal is notorious to sound bad, but as usual the truth is a bit more complex than that: the eq section was convoluted and counter intuitive, with the control of the highs and lows on the same pot (the external ring of the pot would control the lows and the internal part the highs) and also with a mids knob divided in two parts: the interal part that would control the mids and the exteral ring would control the exact position of the mids bell.

To this complex interface we need to add other 2 aspects: this pedal packed too much distortion, with the gain control above the half it would become almost unplayable, and the knobs were too logarithmic, meaning that the increase when moving them wasn't linear, it was like for example the high end would shift from too low to too high in the range of a millimeter.

Once we have clarified that the interface has been undoubtly a failure, let's check out what actually is unique about this pedal, once you get to understand how to use it: it features an active +/-15db eq section, and it's probably one of the only if not the only distortion pedal that lets you decide where to cut or boost the mids, anywhere from 200h to 5k hertz, and this feature gives the player actually a HUGE freedom of tone shaping;
if you have a clear idea of the tone you're after and how to achieve it, this is one of the most versatile distortion you can find, and it has been used by many famous bands such as Biffy Clyro, Disturbed, Korn, Converge, Nine Inch Nails, and (allegedly) Cannibal Corpse.

The Mercuriall Metal Area is a very faithful recreation of the original pedal but with all the controls laid out in separate knobs, and if also the original would have been like this, maybe it would have been understood much better.
By setting the distortion a bit lower and raising the level a bit, and by playing with the mids knobs it's possible to obtain quite credible tones, and it can be used as a preamp without any problem (in the video I have only used this plugin and the free NadIR cabinet simulator, nothing else), so I really encourage all of you to go to the Mercuriall Audio website and download this free plugin, it's a lot of fun to play and who knows, maybe also you will change your mind about this misunderstood stompbox!

Thumbs up!

Specs taken from the website:

- Level

- Dist 

- 4 band Eq Section 

- Input Gain 

- Mono/Stereo 

- Quality switch